You Are What You…..

Jiminy Cricket

The wisest little insect you’ll ever meet

You are what you eat. We’ve all heard that by now. I took it to heart: After a malignant lump was removed from my right breast in the year 2000, and my chemotherapy and radiation were all over and done, I came home and said to myself, “If I just go back to what I was doing, the way I was living before I got cancer, I’ll probably just end up getting it again.” I certainly didn’t want that, so I made some radical changes to my diet and lifestyle. I started doing research into healthy eating, and what I found was shocking, to say the least. I cut out all sugar and all processed foods from my diet. I started eating only clean, fresh, organic whole food. I added in cultured and fermented foods for probiotics and enzymes. I even went completely raw for a few years. I started exercising, and did CrossFit for a while, before I finally settled on yoga, which I love. That was sixteen years ago now, and I haven’t looked back. The change has done me good.

Change does indeed often do us good. And change is inevitable. Change will happen around us and to us whether we want it or not. The question is, do I want to change for the better? Or do I want to put off the inevitable for as long as possible, and possibly—even probably—ending up the worse for it? Let me give you some good advice: Change before you have to. That way, you can determine your own outcome, rather than allowing the outcome to determine you. This has served me well for sixteen years so far, and I’m confident it will serve me just as well for a long time to come.

So, just as you are what you eat, it’s my opinion that you are what you think as well. Proverbs 23:7 says “As [a person] thinks in his heart, so is he”. Do you think positive? Or do you think negative? Is your glass always half empty? Or is it rather always half full? Whatever you think about, that is what you will be. So doesn’t it make sense to always think positive?

Even in the face of what may seem to be overwhelming negatives? Yes, especially in the face of what seem to be overwhelming negatives. After all, what we see with our eyes, or even with our mind’s eye, isn’t iron-clad reality after all. It’s only what we perceive, and we perceive our circumstances solely through the filter of our thoughts and beliefs. If that filter is negative, guess how we will perceive our circumstances? What if we consciously chose to toss the negative filter, and replace it with a brand new positive one? What effect would that have on how we perceive our circumstances? You’re right, you would begin to see them as positive. I like the way Jiminy Cricket always had something profoundly good to say, and he would often say it in a cute little song. Here’s one that came to mind as I was thinking about thinking positive:

You’ve got to accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch on to the affirmative
And don’t mess with Mr. In-Between

You’ve got to spread joy up to the maximum
Bring gloom down to the minimum
Have faith or pandemonium’s
Liable to walk upon the scene…

You are what you eat… Eat positive.
You are what you think… So think positive.

And remember this: when you make a change for the better, this will automatically make a change for the better in the man you married. Because you are one flesh, what you do for your health—whether mental, physical, or spiritual—will be done to him as well. Do you want him to think positive? Well, you have the power to make that happen. You have the power to make the opposite happen in him as well. But do you really want to make two people miserable? To paraphrase the verse above from Proverbs: As you think in your heart, then so is he as well.

Think positive.

I ❤️ You

Today is Febrary 14, another Valentine’s Day holiday. For the past few days I’ve been seeing men coming out of grocery stores with various tokens of love, mostly flowers, or chocolates, or both. It never fails to start me thinking about this cultural mindset we have of buying things to express our love to one another. Now, you may be about to think I am the meanest grinch that not only stole Christmas, but shot Cupid himself through the heart as well, but I’m going to come out and say it anyway: if a person feels obligated to follow the frenzied leadings of clever marketers from the floral and confectionary industries in order to show love to another, they would really be better off to stop, put their wallet away, and think about it first.

What do you think it really means to show love to another? Especially to your spouse? I once worked in a place where every Valentine’s Day, a large number of the women I worked with received very large, showy bouquets of flowers delivered to the workplace. Are you impressed? Well, perhaps that is exactly what the giver of those bouquets had in mind: to impress as many people as possible with their lavish display. The problem with that, as I see it, is that it looks more like those bouquet-buyers were really loving themselves more than the woman for whom they were intended. Why else would they want a whole workforce to notice their big gesture? What’s in it for the wife who received it? I would always wonder what those husbands were like the day before, and what they might be like the day after, and all the days after that, until the next time February 14 comes around, and they make a big show of their love again.

‭“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬

The kind of love the apostle Paul is talking about here cannot be found in a grocery store checkout line. It will never be produced in a candy factory, or arranged in a florist shop. It is a 24/7/365 kind of love that can only be produced in a human heart that is given over first to Christ, and then to its soulmate. This kind of love demonstrates itself clearly, with no need for mass-produced cultural icons to shore it up. It is solid, constant, enduring, and a whole lot more meaningful than flowers, cards or chocolate one day a year. I’m not saying you can’t give and receive those things if you want to do that. Just be sure they aren’t a substitute for the real thing. Happy February 14th.

And 15th, and 16th, and 17th, and…..

Little Miss Muffet

Sometimes as wives we can all too readily become disillusioned, especially if we have been married for any period of time longer than our honeymoon lasted. You may wake up one day and find you are thinking critical thoughts about the man you married. And you may find yourself feeling disappointed, or offended. Or resentful, bitter, or even angry enough to at least entertain thoughts of seeing a lawyer. We shouldn’t feel too, too bad about this: I think it happens to every one of us, to some degree or another. After all, we are only human, and of course therein lies the problem. So, why do you think so many wives struggle daily with some degree of dissatisfaction and disappointment in their marriages? Did we really marry  “the wrong one”?

The answer to that, I am deeply and firmly convinced, is a loud and definite “NO!”

As a matter of fact, I am just as deeply and firmly convinced that this is incontrovertible proof that we in fact married precisely the “right one”.

How so? you may ask.

Here’s what I think: The problem is not the man you married, despite what you may want to believe. The problem is each one of us; more specifically, the problem is that we as individuals and wives have our own agenda for our marriage. Whether we are consciously aware of it or not (and it is most likely we are not aware of it), our agenda is our own preconceived notions about marriage, our faith, our husbands, our life together, the whole package. And as fallen human beings, our own agendas are fatally flawed. Sister, if you are in a troubled marriage, it is a good bet that the underlying reason is that, whether you realize it or not, you are lobbying God for your own agenda. As opposed to God’s agenda for you, which he planned for you from before the world was even created. Which one do you think is the superior one? Which agenda do you think is the very best one for you? Yours? or God’s?

Do you think God’s agenda for you includes a troubled marriage? Which one do you think he is patiently waiting for you to choose?

So, what are you waiting for?

“[Jesus] said to him, “Follow me.” Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!””
‭‭John‬ ‭21:19-22‬

We so often get so tangled up in our own agenda that we forget what it is that Jesus really wants us to do: Follow him. And we can only follow him on our own, by ourselves, as an individual. Because after all, it is Christ who really is our true husband. He is jealous for us. He wants us wholly and completely to himself. Only after we choose to give over our own futile agenda, forget about trying to reform the man we married into our own foolish image, give ourselves fully and completely to Christ, commit ourselves to adopting and promoting His agenda for our lives and our marriages; only then will Christ be able to safely leave us in order to come back and rescue the one who remains waiting…

So, what are you still waiting for?

The disappointment and disillusionment you may feel about the man you married may very well be God’s perfect strategy to drive you into His arms. Troubles and trials are God’s proven method of correcting us. It worked for the Israelites. It works with us too. The more time you waste sitting on your tuffet bitching, moaning and whining about the man you married, the longer that man has to wait for Christ to “come back” for him. If ever: What will happen to him if you never get up off your tuffet and get with God’s agenda for the both of you? I shudder to think, and you should too—time is short, Sister. That man you married, that man that is such a problem for you, may very well be depending on you for his very life, and you may never see that because your head is stuck in a bowl full of your own tears. If your marriage looks bleak, this is the spider you desperately need to get you up to follow Christ, really follow him, giving up your agenda in favor of His perfect, beautiful and fulfilling one. You can save your marriage. Get off your tuffet and get with God’s program. You won’t be sorry.

“For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭16:25‬

Playing With Fire


I was at a short marriage workshop on building trust and communication a few weeks back. The couple leading it said all the usual things about communication. If you’ve even been to one marriage workshop, you’ve probably heard at least a couple:

Say what you mean, and mean what you say
Set aside time to talk things over honestly

The woman spent a few minutes soberly cautioning the ladies in the room never to criticize or speak negatively about their husbands in front of others. Then they briefly mentioned the importance of engaging in intimate conversation in private. Not even ten minutes had passed when the woman tossed out this firebomb:

“What’s for breakfast? is intimate conversation for [my husband]”

There was some laughter in the room, all from women, but I didn’t see or hear this woman’s husband laughing. I wasn’t laughing either; I wondered how many men in that room would have been willing to trade places with her husband at that moment. She meant it as a joke, but didn’t she and her husband just tell us we are supposed to say what we mean and mean what we say? My guess is that what she really meant to say was:

I think my husband is an unromantic slob…

Is anyone laughing now?

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”‭‭ Isaiah‬ ‭43:2‬

No one likes the idea of having to walk through fire or pass through deep water. But this verse doesn’t say “If” you pass…; or “if” you walk…

It says “When…”

You recall the story of Jonah. He knowingly got himself thrown off a ship in the middle of the ocean, yet he didn’t drown. Daniel’s three friends went willingly into a blazing hot furnace, but they didn’t get burned up. Their clothes didn’t even get singed.

I think the key is that they were resolved to going through the ordeal. They recognized that the ordeal was necessary and inevitable, so they said “Okay, I’ll do it.” And once they resolved to go through it, the ordeal simply disappeared. Poof. It was no longer necessary. Gone, like a puff of smoke in the wind.

I’d like to suggest a different way of looking at this verse, by replacing every occurrence of the word when with the word once. Because I think that unless and until you decide to deal with your criticism, or dissatisfaction, or whatever the issue may be for you, you are in effect drowning on dry land and burning yourself up. And because the two of you are one flesh, you’re burning up the man you married as well. If you don’t stop it, the two of you will sooner or later go up in smoke. Perhaps you’ve heard someone say something like “I just don’t know who he is any more”, or “She isn’t the woman that I married”. Of course you won’t know each other any more: you’ve both been burned beyond recognition. By your own hand (or hands—husbands can do this too). Do you think that woman’s husband doesn’t feel, deep down, perhaps without even being aware of it, the disappointment his wife might be drowning them both in? If one of you is very unhappy, don’t you think that the other spouse will be affected by that? If you are dissatisfied, as I think this wife surely is, and you will not take the step to deal with that, you are playing with fire and you know what the consequences of that are. Proverbs 31:12 reminds us that “She does him good and not evil all the days of her life.” If you aren’t doing good to your husband, you’re doing him evil, and God intends for you to pass through his deep cleansing waters and to walk through his refining fire so that he can stop your burning and start you to actively do good to your marriage. Until you decide to be willing to do that, you will just keep on striking matches, fueling and prolonging your ordeal. Remember, because you are one flesh, what happens to one happens to the other. Do yourselves both a service: toss your box of matches into God’s refining fire and watch your ordeal go up in smoke, for good.

How To Load A Dishwasher

I attended the first hour of a one-day workshop recently on building communication and trust in a marriage, presented by a husband/wife team. She was talking about letting go of certain pet peeves a wife might have, one of which was how to load a dishwasher. Ladies, can you identify with this? I know I can. I have my own ideas about where and how each item should be placed so that it will get washed thoroughly. I think it is a logical system. Someone else would probably disagree with me, maybe even want to argue with me about it. I feel bad for the engineers who have to design dishwashers to accommodate all the different opinions consumers will inevitably have about the “right” way to load their dishwashers. It must be a tough, unrewarding job. After all, who’s going to write them a thank-you note for making a dishwasher that everyone in the house can load to everyone else’s satisfaction?

imageIs there even a dishwasher out there that everyone in the house can load to everyone else’s satisfaction? Let me know—I’ll buy it. In the meantime, I need to have a backup plan. A good friend of mine told me that her ex-husband used to repack the dishwasher according to his own system, which was to pack so many things in together so tightly that it would chip the dishes and glasses. This isn’t a good idea. Dishes need room to expand in the hot water. Perhaps her ex might have given up doing this if my friend had begun buying a new set of dishes every week, but we’ll never know now. I’m not suggesting that the dishwasher was the cause of their breakup, but who would have ever imagined that those poor engineers might have to take into account marital strife in designing their dishwashers? They’re dishwasher designers, not marriage counsellors. I need to come up with a less radical backup plan than divorce.

How about scheduling a weekly lesson in how to “correctly” load the dishwasher? Well you could try it, but I predict it won’t go over very well. Nobody wants to go back to school unless they have a good reason to do so, and learning how to load a dishwasher will not generally be seen as a compelling subject. Neither will spot lessons on the fly, where you immediately swap out that bowl for a Tupperware container, all the while shooting a withering look at the clueless offender. With either of these plans you’re really only shooting yourself in the foot. The alternative is to leave everything exactly where it was placed, take a deep breath, swallow hard and forget it. Sort of a desensitization therapy approach. This could possibly work after a long period of time, but what’s the point of it? Aren’t we the ones who use the dishwasher most often? The ones who add the detergent and start the cycle most often? So why shouldn’t we get to load it the way we like? In the end, what I opted for was a fifty/fifty split: some desensitization therapy along with some self-gratification. Now my game plan is to run the dishwasher before it gets so loaded up that I feel compelled to repack it according to my specs. I put in all my dishes where I think they belong, and I leave the other stuff in place where it won’t matter because there is still enough room left in the dishwasher for everything to get thoroughly washed. This is working out really well, and an added benefit is that it isn’t such a chore any more to put away a huge load of clean dishes. I like the fact that my new plan includes some desensitization therapy: it isn’t good for me to be obsessive and it isn’t good for the man I married for me to be obsessive either. It occurred to me just now that I already own a dishwasher that everyone in the house can now load to everyone else’s satisfaction. I wonder if the dishwasher engineers held a planning meeting to think up this solution to how to load their dishwashers. Nice going on their part. I kind of think they deserve a thank-you note, don’t you?